Combat FRM Examination Stress with these Timeless Tips

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes



At some point in time everyone experiences stress when studying for their FRM examinations.

Various physical, mental or emotional conditions may cause this and it is certainly a major issue for many students around the world.

Stress is difficult to define, however I will make an attempt to describe it as best I can. It is that feeling of being: unable to control events or circumstances, being overwhelmed, anxious, just feeling pressured or getting a sense of not having enough time to accomplish a task.

It is simply the body’s natural response to a threat and is not necessarily harmful.

The life of a financial risk manager is not an easy one and you will certainly experience pressuring situations in your work environment.


Experiencing pressure from studying

Stress alerts you that you need to rise to a given challenge. This may occur at any point in the course of studying for the financial risk manager course, from the beginning of the course to after the actual test.

There are various ways of determining if you are stressed and, thankfully, there are various ways of coping with these stressful situations that occur from going through the various exhaustive study materials.



Perhaps the stakes of passing are high. It is a distinct possibility that your promotion may depend on it and you lack the motivation, time or skill to meet the task at hand.

The workplace and family expectations may be high and there is little time available for you to put in the study and preparation that is needed to overcome the course in its entirety.

Maybe you simply doubt your own ability to get back in the world of study and passing.

You may be thinking of other coworkers who have performed well, achieved the designation and, in your mind, the competition becomes not just high, but extremely aggressive.


Meet the challenge head on!

Although the task may seem insurmountable now, I am here to tell you that you absolutely can conquer any stress caused by studying for your examination and you can do so by using some of the tried-and-proven ways of dealing with avoidable stressful situations.

There have been numerous students over the years that have come across the very challenges you are now facing and they all found a way to both cope with the issues as well as to overcome them.

Each and every one of those persons have one thing in common…they all decided that they will persist until they have reached their goal.


Positive self-talk

You can only do your best…let nothing hinder you from doing just that.

Motivate yourself for the challenge through quotes of positive sayings from outstanding successful persons, individuals that you may admire or from reading uplifting quotes gathered from relevant literature available to you.

Some of you may even find your solutions from drawing on the spiritual self and the things that took you through difficult times.

Envision your future success in the exams! Paint that picture in your mind and work toward realizing that goal of attaining the certification.


Relaxation techniques for your exams

Relax – breathe deeply, listen to the rhythm of your heart and then concentrate on your breathing. Close your eyes and shut out all distractions around you. Think of your happiest thoughts.

There is no need to always be in a hurry, as some things can be done tomorrow. Stretch, breathe deeply.

Make a habit of stretching wherever you are. Rotate your hands, ankles and neck. These will help you to relax as well as improve blood circulation in the body.

Many persons have found that performing these simple methods before opening their books to be quite useful. Trying hastily to go through mountains of study notes will only lead to more confusion and stress.

Slow down and be focused.


Take regular breaks

Not everyone can sit for four straight hours to scrutinize every detail in the program. Be aware of the various signs that will help you to recognize when you are getting into the zone of being stressed.

Do another activity or two before returning to the primary task relating to your exams.

This is a time when you could add in some worthwhile activities such as checking your e-mail; making an important call to your spouse, child or business partner.

But be sure to put some time limit on the break so that you do not get too carried away. Strive to be restful and keep all forms of rush and hurry out the way.


Having a personal outlet

Share your concerns with someone who will give you the right kind of encouragement. In the course of their preparation, experiencing stress will be common to most persons.

Therefore, it is considered to be important to find someone responsible who would be willing to share the strategies they used to cope when they had such problems to contend with.

You probably know someone in a situation similar to yours who has done the course or one that is similar in intensity. Perhaps your work place has just the support system you need.

Working with a study partner with the same goal of earning the designation can also provide you with additional support necessary to pass the tests.


Identify what causes your stress

Analyze how you are genuinely feeling about taking the test and try to identify the specific reasons for your stress levels.

Consider the situations that need to change in order to relieve or even ease your stress. Try to change the issues that you can change and seek help to deal with those that you can’t change.

Often, a great gateway towards help when going over the course details is to access academic support portals.

The GARP institution will have numerous services available to you so make good use of all the facilities and outlets before attempting the task.


Adopt a positive attitude to your studies

Always keep in mind the reasons why you first embarked on this study in the first place. Maybe it was your choice or perhaps someone urged you to take this path, nevertheless, now is not the time to quit.

Persistence will eventually lead to great results, just remember; others have passed so you can do it and you have much to gain in earning the certified financial risk management status.

Additionally, if someone did persuade you to attempt the course, then that person must have had faith in you and knows you can do it. Prove them right!


Use stress as a push not a drawback

It is not always a terrible thing to experience stress during your lifetime or course studies. Stress can actually help you to become a more organized individual for your test as well as for life generally.

As you deal with the pressures of studying, put strategies in place to help you cope.

You may just find that you not only deal with this particular event but you may end up making a life change that will further empower you to deal with other stressful situations and future exams (perhaps…the CFA exam?).


Organize, organize, organize

Wait, think, decide, move ahead and plan from the beginning of the course. Make sure you have gone through the content and syllabus and understand what exactly is being asked of you for each segment.

Know how deeply you will be examined.

Set out the strategy to complete the course by classes; plan for days, weeks and months ahead given the duration of the course in relation to when you started to study for it; Plan ahead in such a way that you will be able to ‘catch up’ if you miss out on small segments.

Begin to practice related questions as soon as a topic is covered. Keep track of what you understand and what you do not understand. Once you are nearer to the day, agree on what you want/need to revise and set a plan to do so.

If you can, attend additional lectures, relevant public forums and access any avenue that will enrich your knowledge, skill, understanding and experience for the exam.


Create a time table

Make one that is suitable for you and stick with it. Find the best time for you to devote quality time to your studies. You might need to alter it as you go along but do not abandon the plan.

Remember that this is only for a time so why not just give it your best effort. Make the important persons in your life aware of your plan so you can have their support.

Negotiate with them for time off from other engagements and make up for the lost time when you can. Your integrity is very important at this time so be realistic and keep your promises.

Renegotiate only if you must.


Set targets

Know what you want to achieve in each sitting when covering the syllabus. Create a checklist for the day’s achievement and indicate that you have either achieved it or you fell short of your day’s goal.

This planned action and daily checking will serve as a great motivation tool and will help you reach your final goal of becoming a designate.

The goal can be as simple as reading a number of pages or completing a number of revision questions. It is easier to work now than to worry later.


Reward yourself

After you have achieved a target in your timetable, take a break. Treat yourself with something you like, perhaps something that you deprived yourself of in order to meet your target.

Eat something nice with a friend. Share with those people whom you trust and are important to you that you have reached a target.



Adequate sleep will help to rejuvenate both your mind and body. Not getting enough rest can severely affect your mood, leading to anxiety and compromise your overall health.

Research scientists are now informing us that sicknesses like obesity and diabetes are linked to a lack of adequate sleep.

Forgetfulness and moodiness are also linked to lack of sleep and you cannot afford to be forgetful while you are studying!

A simple power nap may work wonders for you; you may find that this action may lead to higher levels of focus and better clarity of thoughts when studying.

So why not set your alarm and take 10 to 15 minutes sleep during the day. If you do not sleep at least you will have rested a bit (and, as a result, feel less stressed about your exams).


Eat well consistently

You should be eating well all the time but especially leading up to the big day when you need to maintain your energy levels and focus.

Make a habit of eating a health breakfast and drinking enough water throughout the daytime. Take vitamins and eat foods that will boost your brain power.

Explore healthy food choices. Keep healthy foods handy, in your car, office and refrigerator. If you are on medication, keep up the routine. A healthy body will help you to fight stress and illnesses.



To reduce exam-related stress; get up, move, walk, and go outside if possible. Register with a gym and be involved in at least one physical fitness activity. 

Walk to nearby places while using the stairs instead of the lift. The numerous benefits of regular exercise cannot be overstated.



Go confidently! There is nothing else you can do right now but to stay calm and positive. Manage the situation and do not let it manage you.

Get enough rest the night before, know the venue and time in order to get there with enough time to spare. And remember to have all the documents or materials you need.


In closing

Perhaps you have experienced numerous past failures and now fear that you might fail the FRM examination. The feeling of not being able to cope will indicate that you are stressed out.

The extent of this feeling and the perspective you take can determine if this experience will have a negative or positive effect on you.

You probably have thoughts that say ‘I work well under stress’ and might find it exciting or a worthwhile challenge, but the duration of the stressful situation might become unbearable for you.

An entire six months of experiencing stress might be too much for anyone. But bear in mind that stress can lead you to your peak performance, therefore, as much as possible use stress to your advantage.

Remember that stress can be managed. The effects do not have to be negative and it is fine to seek help.


Wishing you the best,

The QuestionBank Family